Horse riders are being asked to help with an important research project looking into the interaction between horse, saddle and rider.
Researchers, led by Dr Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust, are running a detailed study to find out how the horse, rider and saddle influence each other. In particular they want to understand better why some saddles persistently slip to one side in some horses.
Saddle slip in sports horses is a well-recognised problem that can occur for a variety of reasons, including asymmetry in the shape of the horse’s back, riders sitting crookedly and ill-fitting saddles.
Participants in the study simply need to complete an anonymous online questionnaire. In doing so the researchers say that they will be helping to protect and improve the future health, welfare and longevity of the ridden horse.
Preliminary invevstigations have looked at just over 700 riders, but for a more accurate picture the research team would like to include more than 1000 people.
“We are urging all riders, whatever their level or ability, to help by completing the questionnaire,” said Line Greve, a PhD student at the Centre for Equine Studies.
“Saddle slip is a problem seen in all sorts of horses and ponies and can contribute to back pain and thus impaired performance,” she explains. “Research suggests that 25% of British dressage horses have a history of back-related problems and subsequent reduced performance.”
The online questionnaire should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. The questions cover saddle types, use and maintenance as well as rider experience and training, and any previous equine lameness or back-related problems.
Participants will remain anonymous and the results will be presented at the Saddle Research Trust Conference in 2014.
To take part in the study, follow this link to the questionnaire